Doing Life Together

4july_20120519-01As we celebrate this Independence Day, it is important to remember the freedom we have in this country to openly embrace our religious beliefs. For the Christian, true freedom is found in Christ. But with this freedom comes responsibility as noted in Galatians 5:13. The last part of this verse is often quoted, but the first part ignored. Yet, the beginning of the verse is a warning to use our freedom in a way that doesn’t destroy it.

Galatians 5:13 (MSG) It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.

The Apostle Paul warns us to not use our freedom to do whatever we want. That was the opposite message of the serpent to Eve in the garden. Don’t follow God’s instructions, do what you think is best. Then Eve was deceived and ate the fruit. Satan got Eve to think and act independently from God and her husband — sin resulted! Satan himself acted independently from God and was cast out of heaven. He continues to push this message-do whatever you want.

The Bible teaches interdependence … we are not alone, and we don’t grow alone … we are built together as a Holy Temple, upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets. Nothing good happens spiritually with Christians who are not dependent on God … it is a contradiction in terms! There is no power in being independent.

Instead, we are to preserve freedom by following Christ and His example and serve one another in love. Freedom grows through service, not through self-satisfaction. Freedom is based on a dependence on God and an interdependence on each other.

couple arguingIf you want to upset your partner, try these tried and true conversation starters or responses. These phrases will get a reaction, mostly, an upsetting one. So think before you speak!

1) We need to talk. Yes, this is the title of my latest book. Even though this conversation starter is often necessary, most people don’t welcome those four words. They usually mean there is a problem, one that I probably don’t want to talk about. So yes, those words may be upsetting but are necessary to grow intimate relationships. Use the phrase. Don’t expect your partner to be delighted! The phrase is unavoidable if you want to work through issues.

2) I may have thrown it away. I don’t remember. Do you really not remember or were you trying to get rid of something you didn’t want in the house? Be honest. Throwing away that prized leather ball, the too-tight college shirt, the tired old coat might have been on purpose but you anticipated a negative reaction. Better to say, “I did throw it away. Are you upset?” And better yet, “I want to throw this away, is that OK?”

3) Would you ever marry if something happened to me, and who would that be? There is no good answer to this question so don’t ask it. If something happens to you, you aren’t around so don’t waste time speculating. And knowing who the person might marry will start you thinking in a direction you don’t want to go. Don’t ask, don’t tell on this one!

4) Are you gaining weight? It’s only OK to ask if you are losing weight, not gaining. Even if you think it, keep it to yourself. If the answer is YES, the person already feels  bad and doesn’t need you to point it out. If the answer is NO, you’ve just told the person he/she looks fat!

5) Admit it, your mother doesn’t like me. Don’t admit it. This is a loaded statement. If your mother doesn’t like the person, encourage him/her to work on the relationship, but suggest this based on the person’s perception, not your opinion. It’s always best to stay out of the middle and encourage the person to work out his or her own relationship struggles. If you need to respond to this, ask what makes the person think that the mother doesn’t like him/her. Explore possible reasons and see what you can do about those reasons.

s child sleepParenting is on John’s mind now that his second child has arrived. John was raised by a father who was harsh and demanding. John often felt as if he could not live up to his father’s expectations. Now a father himself, John is aware that his parenting style is becoming all to similar to his dad’s. He wants to make changes and asks, “What is the best parenting style?

Parenting styles tend to fall in one of four categories: (1) Parents who are authoritarian. These parents have high expectations. Rules are expected to be followed. Authoritarian parents don’t usually give children options and can lack warmth and nurturing. Their approach is, “Do it because I told you so.” (2) Authoritative parents also expect children to follow rules but are much more responsive and democratic in the process. Discipline is supportive rather than punishing. (3) Permissive parents have few demands for the child and rarely discipline. These parents act more like the child’s friend than parent. (4) Uninvolved parents have few demands or involvement. They can also be rejecting or neglecting of a child’s needs.

Researchers have found that parents who are more authoritative in their parenting style have kids with fewer behavior problems, higher academic achievement, and less depression and anxiety. They tend to fare better overall.[i] This means the type A parent’s push for order and getting things done should be balanced with fun, encouragement, and support. The driven type A parent has to be careful to show compassion along the way and understand that success can look different for different kids. The danger with pushing too hard is that children begin to feel they aren’t accepted for who they are and learn to conform to your dreams, not theirs. The best thing is to understand your child’s temperament and help him reach his potential and passion, using a balance of pushing and accepting.


Adapted from We Need to Talk by Linda Mintle (2015, Baker Books)

[i] D. Baumrind, “Child-care Practices Anteceding Three Patterns of Preschool Behavior,” Genetic Psychology Monographs 75 (1967): 43–88.

anxietySusan feels she can’t stop worrying no matter how hard she tries. She’s beginning to wonder if she is a born worry. She is asking, “Can worry be genetic?”

In 2007, Yale researchers found a gene variation associated with chronic worrying and what they call “overthinking.” The discovered “worry gene” is the result of a genetic mutation that predicts a tendency to ruminate (obsess over negative thoughts).[i] In fact, parts of the brain associated with planning, reason and impulse control show increased activity in worriers. [ii]

Areas of the brain are linked along a circuit. The way the brain is wired regulates our response to danger and threatening events. For some people, that circuitry is more activated and causes more anxiety and frustration. This is the case with people who are diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Swedish and German scientists also believe that two genes account for the development of fears that are not easily overcome in some people.[iii] Without overwhelming you with science, the point is that our genetic make-up interacts with the environment, causing some of us to be more susceptible to fear and anxiety.

Knowing this should help you worry less about why you worry! Having said that, I do not want you to worry about your susceptibility to worry! For those of you who do possess those now discovered anxiety genes, it still takes stressful life events to bring worry to the forefront. Having a tendency towards worry does not mean you will automatically become Chicken Little! But you may need to be more intentional when it comes to sending worry packing.


Excepted and adapted from Letting Go of Worry by Dr. Linda Mintle (Harvest House, 2011)

[i][i] Melinda Beck, “When Fretting is in your DNA: Overcoming the worry gene,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2008, Health section, Online edition. (accessed March 10, 2010).

[ii] Stefan Hofmann et al., “The Worried Mind: Autonomic and Prefrontal Activation During Worrying,”Emotion 5, no. 4 (2005): 464.

[iii] Tina Lonsdorf et al. “Genetic Gating of Human Fear Learning and Extinction: Possible Implications for Gene-Environment Interaction in Anxiety Disorder,” Psychological Science, 20, no. 2, (2009),